Patna Thu 26 April: The community becomes a safe space for children when all its members are alert. People living close to schools can make a big difference if they stand up and speak up for children’s protection.
Some 500 kids held hands in a one kilometre long human chain, in an appeal to grownups to pay more attention to safeguarding children and their rights on Thursday morning. The students, who joined this community effort came together from eight different schools around Fairfield colony and Banskothi in the Digha area.
The children carried placards and sang motivational songs. The event was significant against the background of growing incidence and media reports of child abuse and molestation. Among them were children small and big, girls and boys, and children with special needs. Each link in the human chain fervently asking the grow ups around them to break their silence.
The children with special needs are among the most vulnerable, said a teacher who works with special children at the Asha Deep school. The grown-ups around the home and in the neighborhood should be especially alert if they see strangers approaching or trying to mislead those children with sight, hearing or speech difficulties, she said.
Ms Margaret Martin, director of Fatima High, situated in Fairfield Colony said that school teachers, parents, and the larger community must play a positive role in educating boys about gender equality, as well as to find ways to protect children from harm.
Though the backdrop to the human chain has been the issues emerging from the recent cases in the media of the rape and murder of girl children, the school students also chose to highlight issues such as dowry and the forcible stopping of the higher education of girls. The girls and boys of St Paul’s High School made a strong appeal for the education of girls, refusal to encourage dowry, and gender equality among children.
“We need to sensitize and educate adults to create a child-safe environment. The purpose of this human chain is to call upon all our neighbours in the wider community to be alert to issues of child protection and children’s rights,” said Sr Veena RA, director of Navjeevan Educational and Social Welfare Society, Digha, one of the organisers of the event.
The participating schools were St Paul’s High School, Asha Deep, Graceland Academy, Aryan Public School, Fatima High, St. Mark’s School, Sunshine, and Sunrise School. The children lined the roadsides from 7:30 to 8:30 in the morning.